Every B2B brand, new or old, knows they need to market themselves. It’s just a matter of how. The marketing of the past emphasized sales-y ad spots on television, radio and print; cold calls; direct mail; billboards—your standard outbound marketing. The marketing of today is a different beast. Inbound marketing has proven to be very successful at attracting leads and prospects to your business by drawing them inwards. To do that, here is a list of five B2B inbound marketing techniques your company can utilize.
1. Free Guides, Resources & Ebooks Available for Download
If you’re already posting content on your blog, you may be thinking why should you publish an ebook or a whitepaper? A blog article is max 1,800 words. An ebook, whitepaper or other type of resource guide gives your brand more time to dive into a topic. From the super niche to detailed but broad, these kinds of content give your brand the opportunity to expand on a topic, appeal to a specific target audience or share original research and insight to those in your field. Long form content, as it’s known, is essential to fleshing out your inbound marketing. Our list of account-based marketing resouces is chock-full of great examples.
But most importantly, the distribution of these gated assets can bring your brand one step closer to a lead. Publishing these resources on the condition that the reader providing contact details—email, name, company, etc.—does three things. One, it helps you find a target audience that is actively seeking information in the field to learn more. Two, it provides you with the contact details of an engaged audience to add to your email marketing lists and CRM. And finally, it creates an opportunity for your brand to imprint a positive impression that can potentially extend to a sale.
2. External Forums and Q&A Communities
Many of B2B brands wait until annual conferences to show off their question and answering skills and expertise in the industry. Don’t wait for the conference. Instead, hit up SEO-friendly external forums like reddit and Quora and answer questions related your industry. The good thing is that content published on Quora stays in the spotlight for years to come, and your content is enriched by others’ answers in the entire thread. Answers with useful content will be seen again and again by new visitors to the thread, and some of these visitors can be converted as leads if the content is good.
Be warned, however, that Quora or reddit should not be used as a promotional tool, but a way to contribute to a valuable conversation. It just so happens that you can generate leads from it. Not only is it a solid strategy to develop thought leadership for your company, but often these communities have noted contributors whose answers appear first and foremost.
3. CTA Pop-Ups
One of the best ways to build an audience is through an email subscriber list. To build that, you have to collect emails. You can do this through the usual channels—sidebar forms, landing pages, etc.—but often you can collect emails through a pop-up opt-in form. Pop-up ads have disappeared for a reason: no one likes a disruptive experience when they’re trying to consume content on the internet. That said, pop-up opt-in forms that encourage the user to subscribe to a newsletter or attend a webinar have stayed around for a reason: they work.
So long as these CTAs are non intrusive, they can act as effective reminders about your other content marketing initiatives. Be sure to use tools like HelloBar, OptinMonster or SumoMe to calibrate them for a fluid experience that doesn’t annoy, but remind.
4. Event-Based Marketing
A lot of inbound marketing can be held off until later, on the consumer side of things. That ebook download might sit on someone's desktop; that blog article can be bookmarked; that newsletter won't make it out of the promotions tab. You get the idea. But event-based and live marketing create a sense of urgency.
From live webinars to hosting Twitter Chats, incorporating an event-based marketing strategy is a smart way to carve out time in your audience’s schedule to think about your brand. Participatory events like a conference or a webinar or question-and-answer session makes your audience engaged, active and more likely to participate again. Of course, many small brands may not be able to afford hosting a three-day conference, but with the right tools, a company can host other types of virtual events for zero costs. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, event-based marketing forces your inbound marketing efforts to be considered as a must-see and can’t miss.
5. Guest Posts & Thought Leadership
In the past, guest posts and contributor content from B2B brands looked like op-eds at the a major newspapers or guest columns at a trade publication. Thanks to the democratization of the web, guest contributor posts are no longer exclusive to just the C-Suite. Anyone can post content to channels like LinkedIn and Medium and your B2B brand should, too.The idea of guest blogging is to connect with a larger audience, build up links to your own content and to push brand awareness. It’s proven to be a powerful tool for many a brand, but the question on everyone’s mind is where to guest blog. Every B2B brand wants that semi-regular guest column in Forbes but those can be difficult to obtain. Try anyway; reach out to your network to guest blog on affiliate sites. Look for smaller websites and trade publications that your audience reads. Connect with any business partners or vendors to guest blog on their site. Finally, ask key personnel to write guest posts through their networks or to self-publish on LinkedIn and Medium. Their network, position in the company and expertise will help your company shine.